By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Britain's Giles Scott, who has carried the bulk of his country's medal hopes since the legendary Ben Ainslie retired from Olympic sailing, secured the Finn gold in the medal race on Tuesday that he was already assured of on points.

In a tough battle for the other podium spots in near-perfect wind conditions, Slovenia's Vasilij Zbogar was able to use a medal-race sixth to ensure silver.

Caleb Paine of the United States pulled off one of his best races of this Olympic regatta to come in first in the race, allowing him to jump from fourth overall and onto the podium with bronze.

Paine's medal is the first for a U.S. team that has so far had a weak showing at the Rio Olympics. Several of its top hopes have put in less than consistent performances in the difficult winds and currents of Guanabara Bay, and the high waves and heavy blows of Rio's open-ocean courses.

(Story corrects to say Zbogar took sixth in medal race not eighth.)

(Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Jan Harvey)